Stigma, Discrimination, and Mental Illness

Art by Tsoku Maela


Tasnia Shahrin


The lives of people who suffer from mental health conditions are often made worse by stigma as well as misconceptions. These prejudices mainly arise from the lack of proper education and knowledge. But the most dangerous side of these wrong ideas is that it could lead up to a person’s intense breakdown – which could be self harm or suicide. 

Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life. Some of such stigmas are so casual and normalised that without an explicit awareness, no one will even notice them. Some examples are given below.

 

“Depression means you are crazy”

One of the most common causes of depression is abuse. Another is trauma. To say that someone is “crazy” for having a psychological reaction to abuse and trauma is not only ignorant and irresponsible, but also very damaging. 

Some mature responses towards a person suffering from depression could be: words and action of encouragement, showing compassion, not making any judgemental remarks, and learning from them.

 

“Trauma means you are weird”

Trauma, by definition, is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Molestation, domestic disputes, getting robbed or harassed, tragic loss of loved ones, bullying and a lot of other factors can be spiritual breeding grounds for trauma.

Important thing to remember here is that the SCENARIO was at fault, NOT the individual who was victimised. We also need to keep in mind that the victim is working through triggering emotions and anything at this point can remind them about the unfortunate event. Hence, we should never assume that someone is weird because of the trauma they endured.

 

“Vulnerability means you are weak”

Relational vulnerability entails raw communication, sincerity, and trust. It’s the heroic act of allowing yourself to become susceptible to judgement. In reality, this requires courage and strength. 

Another important concept to remember here is: generic vulnerability. Generic vulnerability entails blatant exposure to attack. We have confused relational with generic vulnerability, and relational vulnerability means that you are emotionally healthy—NOT that you are weak.

 

“Therapy means you failed”

When you go to the gym and exercise, would it be logical for your peers to refer to you as a physical failure? NO. You are training your muscles, organs, and your body to become healthier, stronger, and less prone to get attacked by diseases. 

It is no different with our mental health. Everyone should go to therapy. Working through our emotions and finding constructive ways to deal with them should be commended – not condemned.

 

To conclude, isolating a person who is suffering and accusing them with the above mentioned false conceptions, is like pouring acids upon the epidermis of their souls. They will blister and melt in their own suffering. At the end of the day, community is our nourishment. One must find a way to help those who are struggling, because a vast number of mentally healthy people can not only help develop the society, but can also help the country progress.

 


The writer, a proud Slytherin, is a part of TDA Editorial Team.

 

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